In this chapter, Boyd argues that it is our responsibility as agents of the kingdom of God to maintain purity and holiness. Holiness is not subscription to a particular set of morals (i.e., no drinking, no dancing, etc.) but a life lived like Christ. We're holy when we live sacrificially for others.
The distinctive mark of a Christian is one who follows Jesus. When this happens, the kingdom of God is manifested in that one's life.
But is there ever a time when it's proper to use the means of the kingdoms of this world? We live in a complex time with many political and social choices. Can we use parts of the kingdoms of this world to negotiate our way through, to make sure that "God's" way stands firm and succeeds?
Boyd answers this question by stating that a version of the kingdom of the world that effectively carries out law, order, and justice is closer to God's will for the kingdom of the world...but it is not the kingdom of God. In other words, using power and coercion to achieve even a perceived godly end is not representative of the kingdom of God.
Further, Jesus himself was born into a highly complex, political time. The people he served tried to get answers from him about political questions but he always maintained his focus on the kingdom of God.
- When asked about paying taxes (Matt. 22:20-22), Jesus asked why one's focus was on taxes in the first place--was it because they wanted to hold on to even more? "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's," Jesus said. Taxes are a product of the kingdoms of this world, but Jesus reminds us that we are to be about God's kingdom.
- When Jesus was asked to arbitrate someone's will, he responded to watch out for greed (Luke 12:13-15). The kingdom of God is not found in possessions and in social stature but in service to God and others that manifests God's kingdom.
- Jesus brought together in his group of disciples both conservatives (Matthew, the pro-Roman tax collector) and liberals (Simon, the anti-Roman zealot). He showed that there is something more and deeper in God's kingdom than political divides.
Towards the end of the chapter, Boyd asks a question: Which is easier? To vote against the "sin" of prostitution, or to spend years serving prostitutes by ministering to their real needs with love and care? It's harder to transform people, and many find it easier to use the power of the sword and vote in favor of a system that will seek to change the prostitute's behavior by coercion and force.
A similar question could be asked about abortion: Is it easier to vote against the "sin" of abortion or to love those struggling with the decision? The former is easy and seeks to modify behavior by coercion and force; the latter is harder, requires us to spend time and energy (and perhaps money) and get our hands dirty, and has uncertain outcomes.
But which of the two decisions is in keeping with holiness? Which of the two is Christ-like?